We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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My parents immigrated to America at an early age, in search of better opportunities, a better education, and a better life for themselves and their family. However, in order to pursue their goal/dream, they had to leave behind many things: their friends, their relatives, and their home. When they first arrived in America, they encountered many struggles. They were clueless about America, and they were unfamiliar with the new environment. At that time, they did not have a lot of money, so they could only rent a small apartment to live in. It was also difficult for them to communicate with others and find a job because of their language barrier. Despite these hardships, after a few years of living in America, my parents and my grandparents managed to buy their own house, get stable jobs, and become familiar with their new home. 

At a young age, my parents were told by my grandparents that they had to work hard for what they wanted. If they wanted to buy something, they had to earn money and buy it themselves. I was also told the same thing, but I was fortunate enough to get the things I wanted without having to earn my own money. My parents also did not have the opportunity to take extracurricular classes and lessons that my siblings and I were able to take, due to the lack of money. When I was told about my parents’ difficult childhood, I did not think much of it at first. I would listen to them telling me to work hard and not give up so easily, but they had said it countless times so I stopped taking it in. They would sign me up for all these extracurricular classes that I would eventually quit. I knew I should not have given up so easily on something that my parents put their hard-earned money and time on, but I continued to do so. I would take piano lessons for a few years and then quit, and that would also happen with all the other extracurricular classes that I took. However, during middle school, I started to change that bad habit. I realized that I was taking these lessons for granted and not acknowledging how ungrateful I was being towards something that my parents wished to have but couldn’t. 

Seeing how much hard work they put into creating a better future for me, my siblings, and themselves, reminded me about the hardships they encountered when they were just kids themselves. Their high expectations and the fact that they were not able to take these classes influenced me to continue taking them. If I were to do poorly in those classes, I would feel like I was letting them down and disappointing them, so that motivated me to work harder. I started to take those classes more seriously and even if I lost interest in them, I didn’t quit, because I knew that my parents wouldn’t have if they were given the same opportunities. My parents’ experience has taught me that nothing is ever given to me, and that hard work will help me get the result that I want.

© Yumi Chen. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.